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Kagoshima, Japan: Mysterious forests of Yakushima, exciting taste experiences

Ancient Forests and Excellent Local Cuisine, A Must See Part of Kyushu

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A visit to Kagoshima, located in southwestern Japan on the island of Kyushu, promises visitors memorable experiences in its ancient forests. Local food also offers tourists a wide array of tastes.

Kagoshima offers a rich culinary experience for people with all different palates. Don’t miss out on the specialty foods, such as the well-known Kurobuta or black pork. You enjoy this tender meat fried as cutlets and thinly sliced and boiled in shabu-shabu with vegetables. Diverse cooking methods and sauces bring out delicate flavors.
Pork and vegetables are the main ingredients of kotsu- broth or stew, which is cooked for a very long time until the meat and bones become very soft.

Since Kagoshima has many active fishing ports, fresh seafood is in abundance throughout the year. Among the local seafood products is Satsumage, a kind of minced fish usually made from bonito, black mackerel or sardines. This is deep-fried and eaten after cooking in broth or spirits.

Yakushima Covered in Forest and Dotted with Ancient Trees

While enjoying these, partake in some locally produced Shochu, distilled spirits, made from local sweet potatoes. Since Kagoshima is the second largest producer of green tea its always on hand offering a respite. Both are also popular souvenir items.

While there are many beautiful ports in Kagoshima, many visitors head directly to the ancient forests of Yakushima. Due to the sub-tropical climate, the area gets much rain all year round making the forests rich green with dense foliage. These mountainous forests contain some of the oldest trees in Japan - many being more than 1000 years old.

In the past the cedar trees were cut down for timber and for use as housing shingles. Now these trees are protected in the National Park which was declared a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site in 1993. Much is being done to study the ancient tree growth and promote forest conservation while also encouraging eco-friendly tourism.

A Feeling Like Stepping into Another World on Yakushima

The forests of Yakushima make one feel as though you have stepped into another time and world. While enjoying the sites hiking, one can hear the calls of tropical birds, monkeys and other animals. The morning fog lends an air of mystery to this timeless forest. One of Japan’s must-see locations, Yakushima will not disappoint anyone interested in experiencing nature first hand.

Frequent flights to Kagoshima make access easy and one can get to Yakushima by boat or plane. While boats may offer beautiful sea views, direct flights from Kagoshima, Fukuoka and Osaka airports allow visitors more time to hike, relax and enjoy the sites in Yakushima. It is possible to hire a taxi at some of the local train stations, but many visitors prefer renting car at Yakushima airport to enjoy sightseeing and hiking through the forest on their own pace.

It’s advised that visitors bring sufficient cash with them as there is limited access to ATMs and convenient stores near Yakushima. Some find this an inconvenience, while others find this a pleasant change after the hustle and bustle of the main tourist sites in Tokyo or Kyoto.

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